Dubai's new airport concourse is to be among a handful in the world to use solar power with a rooftop array. It will be capable of meeting 1.8 per cent of power demand once it comes online.
Concourse D, an addition to Terminal 3 that is part of the airport's U$7.8 billion expansion plan, announced it will install rooftop solar panels capable of producing 622 kilowatts at their peak, making it among the largest solar arrays in the emirate.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority's Al Quoz building and Meydan have similar arrays. A thousand kilowatts is the unofficial limit for even the biggest rooftops with solar technology.
"If the Dubai airport is good enough for a massive solar system on the roof, then homes and businesses in Dubai or the other emirates will also be fair play," said Vahid Fotuhi, the president of the Emirates Solar Industry Association. "This is very promising."
The drive to cut emissions on the ground, including onsite recycling and sustainably harvested wood for the new concourse, due to be completed in 2015, comes as Emirates Airline and other carriers face pressure to cut their impact in the air.
Since last year airlines flying in and out of Europe have had to pay for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit.
Before the scheme was implemented, the Dubai carrier estimated the European emissions tax would cost it $500 million to $1bn a year over the first eight to 10 years.
"It's very unlikely that the individual travel patterns will change," said Ivano Iannelli, the chief executive of the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence, a state environmental adviser that assisted in the airport solar plan.
"However by utilising better infrastructure, better routes and better aircraft, these impacts can be decreased dramatically."
The 192-panel array, regarded as unique because it will cover the rooftop of the concourse itself rather than a parking lot, will help to draw more solar companies to the region.
California's Fresno and San Francisco, and Munich in Germany are among other airports that have their own solar panels.
"It suggests that there is a stable and growing market for large rooftop systems which would help attract foreign companies to come and set up shop," said Mr Fotuhi. "Investors like to see this pipeline."